Sukhmanch Theatre took birth through a revolt – Shilpi Marwah

by Manika Srivastava
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Delhi’s Theatre maverick Shilpi Marwah is known for her distinct and dauntless personality. In a tete a tete, she spills some beans on her audacious persona and her unrelenting passion for theatre.
Q. Sukhmanch Theatre has completed one year, how has the journey so far been like?
Shilpi: Sukhmanch took birth through a revolt. I faced harassment where I worked for 14 years. I left that place immediately and didn’t know anything apart from theatre. I named this theatre after my mother’s name. The group is not supported by any government organization or sponsored by anyone. Whatever I earn, I put that on to stage. My vision was that whoever joins us can learn and get trained in a creative environment. Actors should be able to craft their abilities more creatively and be able to give maximum time to their acting. Sukhmanch wants them to become professionals and make them earn their living through theatre as well as cinema. Theatre is like manure for an actor to grow. So, eventually it takes time to become a good actor.
Q. As a female what difficulties did you face doing theatre?
Shilpi: Rather than seeing it as a female, I would say both the genders have to face one frightening question most of the times is that “What do you do” so you say “I do theatre” but it is not considered as doing something for a living. If a person wakes up and acts his soul out from morning 7 to 1 in the night it is not considered work. This is a big challenge. There are times when we do not eat food in between practices. Theatre needs time and support so that it gets nurtured and it needs to be understood by our society. My father supported me when the news of harassment came out. So, like that there are a lot of parents who are supporting their children to do theatre and build their lives into it. Also, we need to understand as a society if we puncture one tyre and build pressure another one the cycle will not work. I also hope that the transgenders are also given opportunities to work in theatre and other fields as well.

Q. What are the aspects to keep in mind while performing street plays?
Shilpi: In my point of view, first, it should be direct. The more fanciful you make it, the more limited it gets and second, the content should be ambiguous to be performed anywhere.
Q. Tell us more about Children’s Theatre Workshop and what was your experiencing working with them?
Shilpi: I am working with adults throughout the year. But during summer holidays, for 6-7 weeks I work with children. There is lot of freshness around me throughout the workshop. I don’t force them; they put their best effort in whatever way they can. With children I get to understand what democracy is, as it is hard to convince them to do something. You have to become their friend first and then they would do anything with maximum effort.
Q. One life lesson you want to give to everyone?
Shilpi: In life there would be hard times and certainly you have to get out of it. You don’t wish to but you have to face the hard times. I tell my students to face it with freedom and that it would make things easier. These problems make life what it is.
Q. What is the procedure to join Sukhmanch Theatre?
Shilpi: There is no rejection in Sukhmanch, anyone who hasn’t done theatre can join it. I am willing to teach anyone who does not know anything about acting or someone who has experience in it. It’s not that I am only teaching in a process but I learn more from the students too. Theatre is more of a learning process where you should have the attitude to be a student all your life and cinema is where you can apply it.

Contribution – Tushar Mishra.

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